By David Paschall, timesfreepress.com:
Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson admits there was a time he briefly lost perspective on the Iron Bowl. Johnson was nearing the end of his first season as Alabama’s defensive coordinator in 1997 under first-year Crimson Tide head coach Mike DuBose. Alabama had won the 1996 Iron Bowl 24-23 at Birmingham’s Legion Field, but the Tide had just endured a third consecutive loss to Peyton Manning and the Tennessee Volunteers. “I told Mike DuBose, ‘It seems more people around here are more hyped up over the Tennessee game than the Auburn game,’” Johnson recalled Sunday night in a news conference. “He looked at me and said, ‘You haven’t lost to Auburn yet.’ I got the message really quick, and it’s obviously huge on both sides.
By MARQ BURNETT, ledger-enquirer.com:
Those questioning the importance of Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon to Alabama’s offense need only to listen to Tide coach Nick Saban’s words. Yeldon hasn’t put up the numbers many expected from the junior tailback going into the season. On the year, he’s the Tide’s leading rusher with 758 yards for an average of 75.8 yards per game. Those stats have Yeldon outside of the top-10 on the SEC’s rushing list. But that hasn’t diminished his value in Saban’s eyes.
By Andrew Gribble, al.com:
The final Monday practice of Alabama’s 2014 season is underway. Here’s the latest from the first Iron Bowl week session. WR Amari Cooper (knee) was with the wide receivers and helping them through drills by simulating a pressing cornerback but he did not run any routes. RB T.J. Yeldon (ankle/foot) appeared to be a full participant during the viewing session. Of note, Tyren Jones was not wearing a scout team jersey while Altee Tenpenny wore No. 44 (Cameron Artis-Payne).
By Phillip Marshall, Athlon Sports:
Containing Heisman Trophy candidate wide receiver Amari Cooper will be crucial to Auburn’s chances of pulling an Iron Bowl upset over Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, but that alone won’t be enough. The scheme of first-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is different than what Auburn has become to seeing at Alabama since Nick Saban took over as head coach in 2007. “He’s got a toy box full of toys over there,” Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said. “His system has been devised to take advantage of all that talent. Whether they are spreading you out with all the speed, multiple formations, they have a very versatile bunch of players and they are utilizing them all.”
By Tom D’Angelo, palmbeachpost.com:
Florida State and Alabama are discussing playing a game in Atlanta to open the 2017 season, according to sources. Florida State has a similar season opener set for 2016 against another SEC team, Mississippi. That game will be in Orlando on Labor Day. The Seminoles opened this year with a neutral-site game, playing Oklahoma State in Arlington, Texas, in prime time. Alabama had approached Miami about the 2017 game, but the Hurricanes opted to open the 2018 season against LSU in Arlington and did not want to open successive seasons against Alabama and LSU. Alabama reportedly has also had discussions with Penn State and USC about playing in 2017. Florida State’s non-league schedule for 2015 has low-profile home games — against Texas State, South Florida and Chattanooga — and a road game against Florida.
By Cliff Kirkpatrick, Montgomery Advertiser:
An identity of being an explosive offense developed for the the Alabama football team. The Crimson Tide, ranked No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings, used that to its advantage the first 11 games of the season. And will continue to do so this week for this Saturday night’s Iron Bowl in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide is coming off a 48-14 nonconference victory over Western Carolina last Saturday where it produced 612 yards of total offense. Coach Nick Saban likes what his offense has done, but believes there’s potential to do more. “I certainly feel we are capable and we have to do a better job of executing,” Saban said. “And people have to do a better job of paying attention to detail and understand things have to be exact.”
By John Zenor, onlineathens.com:
Maybe Alabama and Auburn had something else on their minds entering the Iron Bowl warmup acts, like each other. It took both teams some time to get going against FCS teams on Saturday. Now, the second-ranked Crimson Tide and 15th-ranked Tigers can turn their focus exclusively to the rivalry — already a hot topic year-round among fans in the state. “It’s the biggest college rivalry in history, so of course you’re going to want to have fun and do the things you’ve got to do to prepare for it,” Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland said.
By Brandon Marcello, al.com:
Alabama is the favorite in the Iron Bowl, but Auburn is not as big of an underdog as it was last season. Auburn opened Sunday as a 7-point underdog, according to VegasInsider.com, but the line moved up to 9.5 in the evening. Alabama (10-1, 6-1 SEC) entered a road trip at Auburn (7-3, 4-3) last season as a 9.5-point favorite after opening as a 10-point favorite inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tide was ranked No. 1 and Auburn was fourth nationally entering the Mother of All Iron Bowls in 2013.
By David Paschall, timesfreepress.com:
There has been great anticipation for Saturday night’s Iron Bowl ever since Auburn cornerback Chris Davis raced the length of the field last November to deliver the Tigers to a stunning 34-28 triumph at a delirious Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Crimson Tide and Tigers appeared to daydream about their impending rematch in Tuscaloosa for much of this past weekend instead of focusing on their tasks at hand. Alabama and Auburn fell behind Championship Subdivision opponents Saturday before regrouping and pulling away, with the Tide downing Western Carolina 48-14 and the Tigers dumping Samford 31-7.